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NHS weight loss schemes 'ineffective'

  • 8 Comments

NHS weight loss programmes are less effective than commercial brands such as Weight Watchers, researchers have claimed.

A study in Birmingham found that diet and fitness counselling at GP surgeries or pharmacies or from food advisers and dieticians could be a waste of NHS money.

The research involved 740 overweight or obese participants, some of whom attended Weight Watchers, Slimming World, or Rosemary Conley.

Others were put on the Size Down programme run by NHS advisers and dieticians, or were given one-to-one counselling sessions in GP surgeries or pharmacies.

After three months, all programmes had produced weight loss ranging from an average of 1.37kg in the GP group to 4.43kg among the Weight Watchers group.

But the NHS programmes had achieved no better effects than a control group who simply exercised at a local fitness centre.

All of the programmes apart from the GP and pharmacy counselling eventually resulted in significant weight loss after 12 months, the study showed.

The researchers concluded that instead of spending money on weight loss counselling, the NHS should put the cash towards encouraging patients to attend classes run by commercial companies.

  • 8 Comments

Readers' comments (8)

  • This article, and many of the recent stories it is based on is wholly inaccurate, and in part at least very suspect if you consider the wholesale agenda towards privatisation, "the NHS should put the cash towards encouraging patients to attend classes run by commercial companies" HMMMmmm.

    Think about it, the advice offered by expertly trained clinical staff is exactly that, evidence based, clinical advice. In what way is that ineffective? It won't be, will it.

    The advice offered by MANY 'commercial companies' is wrong at best. Whilst there are some half decent ones, there have been so many that I have seen that have made me want to slap some sense into the people running it! (not really, but you can get the sense of my frustration). Just look at many of the fad diets and crazes out there.

    Now, I think this is probably more an issue of access, for many people who need to get fit and lose weight, how many of them access proper clinical advice and more importantly LISTEN to it? And how many simply join a fad club with a group of their mates and want to get a quick fix?

    I think the NHS is missing a massive trick here, if more budget and resources were put into preventative strategies such as rolling out Nurse led health advice and activities in set classes, Nurse led gym referrals with follow on advice and progress monitoring, Nurse led 'weight loss' classes that can be run along the same lines as commercial programs in places people are more likely to access them such as gym classes or community centres, etc, I think we would see a vastly different picture.

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  • Having just completed two projects with band 4 health advisors giving lifestyle advice to patients with IGT, the weight loss after a six month period amongst patients on both projects was an average of 4.7%, so I disagree with the article printed.

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  • I don't agree with the article either, perhaps it should state that 'fad diets and slimming clubs are accessed more regularly despite the fact they aren't as good.'

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  • By any normal scientific standards the diets offered by private organisations do not work.They offer a short term quick fix but do not work in the long term which is how treatments are normally measured. The timescales used are too short to show this.

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  • I think you will find that many experienced nurses support the weight watchers diet. I know our Band 8 Diabetes Nurse Specialists do. They are in post with high academia, and an abundance of research/evidence-based knowledge. I do agree, however, that there are many 'fad' diets out there too.

    As continued research goes on and on, we can never be certain that we are giving the 'right' advice, it can only be based on the here and now. I bet drug companies are working on how to cash in on RSI, in the future, for todays texters.

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  • Anonymous | 9-Nov-2011 1:00 am I tend to agree with Nicola on this one. The majority of these fads out there are misleading at the very best. The occasional one, such as weightwatchers, get SOME things right such as calorie control, and do gain the support of some Health professionals, but with reservations. They by no means encompass the whole picture most of the time, and quite often send out the wrong message too. I have yet to see ONE private scheme that I would agree with 100%. I think what would be more advantageous is if the NHS utilised in some way the marketing strategies and business models firms like weightwatchers do, in order to get the RIGHT information about nutrition and exercise out there.

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  • Taking a straw poll amongst friends and family, it would seem that the `nurse/GP route` is not something that many would opt for on their quest to lose weight. Many suggested that "lifestyle changes" and over use of the term `obese` (whether clinically correct or not), put them off going down this route. They preferred to be able to go to classes/ conselling outside of the profession, where they felt THEY had control of their quest, and whether they could opt in and out on a weekly basis, instead of making/breaking appointments the the local sugery.

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  • Taking a straw poll amongst friends and family, it would seem that the `nurse/GP route` is not something that many would opt for on their quest to lose weight. Many suggested that "lifestyle changes" and over use of the term `obese` (whether clinically correct or not), put them off going down this route. They preferred to be able to go to classes/ conselling outside of the profession, where they felt THEY had control of their quest, and whether they could opt in and out on a weekly basis, instead of making/breaking appointments the the local sugery.

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